McFarland Clinic

The “Stomach Flu”

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January 4, 2011

Often people say they have the stomach flu, little do they know that this is not actually caused by the influenza viruses. People who have the stomach flu have what is called gastroenteritis.

“Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach, small and large intestines, which can be caused by various viruses, which result in vomiting and/or diarrhea. The most common virus during this time of year is the Norovirus,” said Terri Hobbs, LPN, McFarland Clinic Urgent Care in Ames.
Symptoms include:
-         Watery diarrhea
-         Vomiting
Other symptoms may include:
-         Headache
-         Fever
-         Abdominal pain. 
Symptoms may last 1 to 10 days.
The viruses are spread through close contact with the infected person or by eating or drinking infected foods or beverages. It is contagious and anyone can get viral gastroenteritis. At this time the only virus in this category with a vaccine is the Rotavirus which is most common in children under the age of five.
Gastroenteritis is diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms and an examination by a healthcare provider. There are also lab tests such as stool cultures to detect the Rotavirus.
“Antibiotics and other medications are not recommended for treatment. The main form of treatment is to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids,” stated Hobbs.
For more information about gastroenteritis please contact your McFarland Clinic primary care provider.

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